End Times News Update
Sign: Security of Jerusalem
Scripture: Ezekiel 38:8; Zechariah 12,14; Luke 21:20
News Source: My Way News
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Hamas targets Jerusalem in major escalation

Nov 16, 9:12 PM (ET)
By IBRAHIM BARZAK and JOSEF FEDERMAN

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Palestinian militants took aim at
Jerusalem for the first time Friday, launching a rocket attack on the
holy city in a major escalation of hostilities as Israel pressed
forward with a relentless campaign of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

Israel called up thousands of reservists and massed troops along the
border with Gaza, signaling a ground invasion of the densely populated
seaside strip could be imminent. The attack on Jerusalem, along with
an earlier strike on the metropolis of Tel Aviv, raised the likelihood
that Israel would soon move in.

Israel launched its military campaign Wednesday after days of heavy
rocket fire from Gaza by assassinating the military chief of the
territory’s ruling Hamas militant group. Since then it has carried out
hundreds of airstrikes on weapons-storage facilities and underground
rocket-launching sites.

It has slowly expanded its operation beyond military targets and
before dawn on Saturday, missiles smashed into a small Hamas security
facility as well as the sprawling Hamas police headquarters in Gaza
City, setting off a massive blaze there that threatened to engulf
nearby houses and civilian cars parked outside. No one was inside the
buildings at the time.

A separate airstrike leveled a mosque in central Gaza, damaging nearby
houses, Gaza security officials and residents said. The military had
no comment on that attack and it wasn’t clear whether weapons or
fighters were being harbored in the area.

Israeli leaders have threatened to widen the operation if the rocket
fire doesn’t halt. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said options
included the possible assassination of Hamas’ prime minister, Ismail
Haniyeh, and other top leaders.

“Every time that Hamas fires there will be a more and more severe
response,” he told Channel 2 TV. “I really recommend all the Hamas
leadership in Gaza not to try us again. … Nobody is immune there,
not Haniyeh and not anybody else.”

While Israeli military officials insist they have inflicted heavy
damage on Hamas, there has been no halt to the militants’ rocket fire.
Hundreds of rockets have been fired, including a number of
sophisticated weapons never before used.

The rocket attack on Jerusalem was unprecedented, setting off the
eerie wail of air raid sirens across the city shortly after the
beginning of the Jewish sabbath, a time when roads are empty. Police
said the rocket landed in an open area southeast of the city. Earlier
on Friday, Hamas fired a rocket at Tel Aviv that also landed in an
open area.

Israel’s two largest cities have never before been exposed to rocket
fire from Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Over the past three days, Israel has struck suspected rocket-launching
sites and other Hamas targets in Gaza with scores of airstrikes, while
Hamas has fired more than 450 rockets toward Israel. In all, 27
Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed.

On Friday, the Israeli army sent text messages to some 12,000 Gaza
residents warning them to steer clear of Hamas operatives.

An attack on Jerusalem, claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as
their capital, was especially bold, both for its symbolism and its
distance from the Palestinian territory. Located roughly 50 miles (80
kilometers) from the Gaza border, Jerusalem had been thought to be
beyond the range of Gaza rockets.

“We are sending a short and simple message: There is no security for
any Zionist on any single inch of Palestine and we plan more
surprises,” said Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing.

It marked a bit of a gamble for the militants. The rocket landed near
the Palestinian city of Bethlehem and just a few miles from the
revered Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, one of Islam’s holiest
sites.

Hamas, an Iranian-backed group committed to Israel’s destruction, was
badly bruised during its last full-fledged confrontation with Israel
four years ago that ended with an informal truce, although rocket fire
and Israeli airstrikes on militant operations continued sporadically.

Just a few years ago, Palestinian rockets were limited to crude,
homemade devices manufactured in Gaza. But in recent years, Hamas and
other armed groups have smuggled in sophisticated, longer-range
rockets from Iran and Libya, which has been flush with weapons since
Moammar Gadhafi was ousted last year.

Hamas said the rockets aimed at the two Israeli cities Friday were
made in Gaza, a prototype the militants call M-75, and have a range of
about 50 miles (80.46 kilometers). The Israeli military also released
a video of what it said was an attempt by Hamas to launch an unmanned
drone aircraft. Neither weapon was previously known to be used by
Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu huddled with his emergency
Cabinet on Friday night. Israeli media reported the meeting approved a
request from Defense Minister Ehud Barak to draft 75,000 reservists.
Earlier this week, the government approved a separate call-up of as
many as 30,000 soldiers. Combined, it would be the biggest call-up of
reserves in a decade.

Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, a military spokeswoman, said 16,000
reservists were called to duty on Friday and others could soon follow.

She said no decision had been made on a ground offensive but all
options are on the table. Dozens of armored vehicles have been moved
to Israel’s border with Gaza since fighting intensified Wednesday.

The violence has widened the instability gripping the region,
straining already frayed Israel-Egypt relations. The Islamist
government in Cairo, linked like Hamas to the region-wide Muslim
Brotherhood, recalled its ambassador in protest and dispatched Prime
Minister Hesham Kandil to show solidarity with Gaza.

Kandil called for an end to the offensive while touring Gaza City’s
Shifa Hospital with Haniyeh, the Gaza prime minister who was making
his first public appearance since the fighting began.

In one chaotic moment, a man rushed toward the two leaders, shouting
as he held up the body of a 4-year-old boy. The two prime ministers
cradled the lifeless boy who Hamas said was killed in an Israeli
airstrike. Israel vociferously denied the claim, saying it had not
operated in the area.

Fighting to hold back tears, Kandil told reporters the Israeli
operation must end.

“What I saw today in the hospital, the wounded and the martyrs, the
boy … whose blood is still on my hands and clothes, is something
that we cannot keep silent about,” he said.

An Egyptian intelligence official, meanwhile, said an Egyptian
proposal for a cease-fire in Gaza was presented Friday to Haniyeh and
other Hamas leaders. The details were not made public.

However, Hamas replied that a cease-fire was premature because
military chief Ahmed Jaabari’s “blood has not dried yet.”

The Egyptian official said Hamas officials promised to study the
cease-fire proposal again in the coming days. The official spoke on
condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the
information.

A senior Hamas official confirmed that Egypt, which often mediates
between Hamas and Israel, was working behind the scenes to arrange a
truce.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was
discussing a sensitive diplomatic matter, said Hamas was demanding an
end to the offensive, limits on Israeli ground activities along the
border, a permanent halt in assassinations of Hamas leaders and an end
to Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

“These conditions must be honored and sponsored by a third party,” he
said. “We will stop all armed activities out of Gaza in return.”

An Israeli official refused to say whether Egypt or any other country
was involved in cease-fire efforts but said Israel would not settle
for anything less than a complete and long-standing halt to the rocket
fire. “We’re not interested in a timeout that returns us to square
one,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not
allowed to discuss the matter with the media.

Federman reported from Jerusalem. Aya Batrawi in Cairo and Ian Deitch
in Jerusalem contributed reporting.

Source: My Way News
URL:
http://apnews.myway.com/article/20121117/DA2JF55O1.html

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